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This title in other editions

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

by

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

As Utah-born naturalist Terry Tempest Williams records the simultaneous tragedies of her mother's death of cancer and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Sanctuary, she creates a document of renewal and spiritual grace destined to become a classic in the literature of nature, women, and grieving.

Review:

"Brilliantly conceived...one of the most significant environmental essays of our time." The Kansas City Star

Review:

"Moving and loving...both a natural history of an ecological phenomenon [and] a Mormon family saga....A heroic book." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"There has never been a book like Refuge, an entirely original yet tragically common story, brought exquisitely to life." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Profoundly moving...one of the most significant environmental essays of our time." Kansas City Star

Review:

"Remarkable....Her demonstration of how deeply human emotional life can become intertwined with a particular landscape could not be more relevant to our lives." Barry Lopez

Review:

"From 1982 to 1989 Williams, a naturalist in residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History, suffered two traumatic events: her mother's unsuccessful battle with cancer and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge by the rising waters of the Great Salt Lake. Here she attempts to come to terms with the loss of her parent and that of the birds in the refuge by juxtaposing natural history and personal tragedy, alternating her observations on each. In an epilogue that might well serve as the subject of another book, the author also maintains that her mother — and many other people in Utah — probably contracted cancer as a result of radioactive fallout from atmospheric testing of atomic weapons in Nevada in the 1950s and '60s. And she concludes that, even though it is not in the tradition of her Mormon background to question governmental authority, she must actively oppose nuclear tests in the desert. The book is a moving account of personal loss and renewal." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Terry Tempest Williams's prose is clear, strong and vivid. Her intertwined stories of a wildlife refuge lost to the rising Great Salt Lake and her mother's battle with cancer are well integrated....Ms. Williams has been less than well served by her editor, however. Her questioning of her Mormon faith is not smoothly interwoven with the other two themes of Refuge, and interrupts the narrative flow. Most disruptive of all is the discussion of the atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in Nevada in the 1950's that Ms. Williams is almost certain led to her mother's death in 1987 and the death of many of her other female relatives, all from cancer. Coming without any foreshadowing, this material makes for a contrived ending." Margaret B. Guthrie, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Williams, a naturalist at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City, uses the rise and fall of Great Salt Lake and the fluctuations in wild bird populations that inhabit or migrate through the ecosystem as a personal metaphor. Her diary-like personal reflections cover such issues as helping family members through the traumatic process of living and dying with cancer. She also reflects upon women's place within the Mormon Church and touches on citizens' conflicting civic responsibilities as stewards and exploiters of the earth. Finally, she ponders federal responsibility for irradiating Utah land and people during 11 years of above-ground atomic testing. Williams's book is difficult to pigeonhole because she wrestles with a wide range of ethical questions in her struggle to find understanding. Her book may be of particular interest to public libraries in Southwestern states." Laurie Tynan, Library Journal

Review:

"Williams interweaves the tales of devastation of family and landscape with memories that provide a personal history of her relationship with both, and with observations and reflections that are her slow coming to terms with the finality of those events. The bimodal narrative sometimes seems forced and interruptive, but the points of contact between the two chronicles of loss reflect something essential about Williams' own habits of mind....{Williams'} mother's illness and the degradation of the marshlands are both caused and treated by 'unnatural' interventions....The act of writing that has been her healing provides an unusual and evocative testimony to the courage it takes to live through the sicknesses of our time." Marilyn R. Chandler, Women's Review of Books

Synopsis:

In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.

About the Author

Terry Tempest Williams lives in Grand County, Utah.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

boehnlei, October 31, 2011 (view all comments by boehnlei)
I divided the reading of this book into two different chunks, at first overwhelmed by the precision, depth, and complexity of Williams' writing. The second time, I was blown away again but sped through the book, completely consumed. I am amazed by the way that Williams merges her scientific, naturalist knowledge with the details of her personal life, using one as a metaphor for the other. I am looking forward to reading more by Williams!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Ashley Ruesch, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Ashley Ruesch)
This is the best book I have ever read. It's beautiful, poetic, creative non-fiction.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Vickie, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by Vickie)
This book is a great synthesis of family and environment, and the critical role both play in personal growth and development of awareness and identity.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 6 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679740247
Author:
Williams, Terry Tempest
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Williams, Terry Tempest
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Subject:
Breast
Subject:
Health Care Issues
Subject:
Conservation of natural resources
Subject:
Natural Disasters
Subject:
Natural history
Subject:
Breast neoplasms.
Subject:
Natural history -- Utah -- Great Salt Lake Region.
Subject:
Breast -- Cancer -- Patients -- Utah -- Biography.
Subject:
Health
Subject:
Tempest, Diane Dixon - Health
Subject:
General Nature
Subject:
Biology-Reference
Copyright:
Edition Number:
2
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Series Volume:
10
Publication Date:
19920931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.02x5.22x1.04 in. .57 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Reference
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Natural History » General

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780679740247 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Brilliantly conceived...one of the most significant environmental essays of our time."
"Review" by , "Moving and loving...both a natural history of an ecological phenomenon [and] a Mormon family saga....A heroic book."
"Review" by , "There has never been a book like Refuge, an entirely original yet tragically common story, brought exquisitely to life."
"Review" by , "Profoundly moving...one of the most significant environmental essays of our time."
"Review" by , "Remarkable....Her demonstration of how deeply human emotional life can become intertwined with a particular landscape could not be more relevant to our lives."
"Review" by , "From 1982 to 1989 Williams, a naturalist in residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History, suffered two traumatic events: her mother's unsuccessful battle with cancer and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge by the rising waters of the Great Salt Lake. Here she attempts to come to terms with the loss of her parent and that of the birds in the refuge by juxtaposing natural history and personal tragedy, alternating her observations on each. In an epilogue that might well serve as the subject of another book, the author also maintains that her mother — and many other people in Utah — probably contracted cancer as a result of radioactive fallout from atmospheric testing of atomic weapons in Nevada in the 1950s and '60s. And she concludes that, even though it is not in the tradition of her Mormon background to question governmental authority, she must actively oppose nuclear tests in the desert. The book is a moving account of personal loss and renewal."
"Review" by , "Terry Tempest Williams's prose is clear, strong and vivid. Her intertwined stories of a wildlife refuge lost to the rising Great Salt Lake and her mother's battle with cancer are well integrated....Ms. Williams has been less than well served by her editor, however. Her questioning of her Mormon faith is not smoothly interwoven with the other two themes of Refuge, and interrupts the narrative flow. Most disruptive of all is the discussion of the atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in Nevada in the 1950's that Ms. Williams is almost certain led to her mother's death in 1987 and the death of many of her other female relatives, all from cancer. Coming without any foreshadowing, this material makes for a contrived ending." Margaret B. Guthrie, The New York Times Book Review
"Review" by , "Williams, a naturalist at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City, uses the rise and fall of Great Salt Lake and the fluctuations in wild bird populations that inhabit or migrate through the ecosystem as a personal metaphor. Her diary-like personal reflections cover such issues as helping family members through the traumatic process of living and dying with cancer. She also reflects upon women's place within the Mormon Church and touches on citizens' conflicting civic responsibilities as stewards and exploiters of the earth. Finally, she ponders federal responsibility for irradiating Utah land and people during 11 years of above-ground atomic testing. Williams's book is difficult to pigeonhole because she wrestles with a wide range of ethical questions in her struggle to find understanding. Her book may be of particular interest to public libraries in Southwestern states."
"Review" by , "Williams interweaves the tales of devastation of family and landscape with memories that provide a personal history of her relationship with both, and with observations and reflections that are her slow coming to terms with the finality of those events. The bimodal narrative sometimes seems forced and interruptive, but the points of contact between the two chronicles of loss reflect something essential about Williams' own habits of mind....{Williams'} mother's illness and the degradation of the marshlands are both caused and treated by 'unnatural' interventions....The act of writing that has been her healing provides an unusual and evocative testimony to the courage it takes to live through the sicknesses of our time."
"Synopsis" by , In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.
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